Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Forget about Sgt. Pepper. The Beatles revolutionized culture when they recorded "Slow Down." Only it took over 50 years for the Travel Channel to catch up:

Twelve hours of reality in real time. Don't we all experience this every day of our lives? Do we need to see it on TV to prove that it's real? Hell, 20 minutes of C-SPAN makes me reach for the psiloscybin. Now you want me to watch a 12-hour goddamn road-trip?

My wife, daughter and I once drove to Niagara Falls, which took something like eight hours. Two years ago, we drove seven hours to Syracuse so our daughter could visit its beautiful, impressively-overpriced university. In neither case did the thought occur to me, Boy, this sure would make for some great television! In fact, I think both trips would have the same effect on TV audiences as it did on my wife and daughter, which was put them to sleep.

"I can't miss a minute!"
Like reality TV, slow TV originated in Europe. In 2013, almost a quarter of Norway's population tuned in to watch a 12-hour program devoted to knitting: four hours of discussion, followed by eight hours of doing.

Let me repeat that: twelve straight television hours of knitting. Wasn't the Nazi invasion enough torture for Norwegians? Or did they collectively think, Gee, how can we become even more boring than we already are?

Just how boring is Norway? Opening a can of fish is cause for fear, as the BBC reported last year:

If slow television catches on in the US the way other imports like Big Brother and Survivor have, I'm going to start a local station -- WHOA-TV -- devoted to it. Because even though tourists come to New York for its hustle & bustle, we who live here know that's just a myth. You want slow TV? This would be a selection of a typical broadcasting day:
  • Commuting on the George Washington Bridge at rush hour.
  • Finding a parking space within 20 blocks of your home.
  • Trying to get the bartender's attention on a Saturday night.
  • Waiting for the cable guy to arrive.
  • Standing in line at the post office. 
  • Going though the TSA checkpoint at Kennedy Airport.
  • Watching me toss and turn in the middle of the night as I analyze what a pig's dinner I've made of my life.
Thanks to our European friends, that old cliche about watching paint dry will soon be known as watching Norwegian wood -- and you'll play Comcast for the privilege.


No comments: